The Last Changeling, co-authored by Jane Yolen and her son, Adam Stemple, is the second book in “The Seelie Wars Trilogy”. This series draws on the old English and Scottish mythology of faeries – happy or light-hearted fairies belonged to the Seely Court; whereas, unhappy or dark faeries resided in the Unseely Court. Poets from Chaucer to Yeats have included Seely mythology in their works, and students interested in mythology may be intrigued enough by story of “The Last Changeling” to do some research of their own.
In “The Last Changeling”, the authors give enough background information on the characters and previous action that this novel can be enjoyed on its own. In this fantasy world of Seelie, the reader meets magical fey creatures – trolls, dwarfs, Border Lords, boggarts, bogies, plus many others –and finds out that a changeling is a human child exchanged by the faeries to live and work for the faeries in the mythical lands. Snail, a changeling, and Aspen, a hostage Seely prince, find themselves in the middle of a war between the two kingdoms, and at odds with Professor Odds who wants to instigate an uprising of the changelings so that he can take over power. The descriptions are well-written, with metaphors that provide clear images, powerful verbs, precise adverbs, word play (many puns from the dwarfs), and colourful diction throughout. Through the many plot twists the reader is engaged by the swings of emotion from humourous to profoundly sad. Themes of friendship, loyalty and “doing-the-right thing when it would be easier to give up”, add depth beyond the fantasy adventures.